5 Franklin Co. inmates set to graduate from new self-development redirection program

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. — Life is about making mistakes, but also giving those people second chances.

That second chance is something Arturo Ortiz and James Atterberry are grateful for. They’re inmates at the Franklin County Jail, looking to get on the straight and narrow with the help of the brand-new “Self-Development Redirection” program.

“I learned a lot — a lot of new thing in here,” Ortiz said. “It’s actually a positive program.”

“It’s been a real positive experience,” Atterberry said. “We bonded together and help each other.”

The program lasts for 10 weeks. It provides weekly course work, classes and job training. Local agencies have stepped in to help including Work Source, Lourdes Health, Summit Food Services and much more. Arturo is working on his GED.

“I’m focusing on this because I really want it — bad,” he said. “There’s no reason why I get out of there and not be able to get a job.”

Ortiz was scheduled to get out of jail about two weeks ago with good behavior. Instead, he asked if he could stay in because he wanted to finish the program and continue to work on his GED.

“My plan is to do good and succeeding, and honestly, I’m hoping maybe a year down the future or so come back and give back to the community,” he said. “I would maybe like to be apart of this program.”

Atterberry has been working on his resume and job search.

“When we get close to our release date, we can start putting in resumes,” he said. “Going through, looking at all the jobs out there right now.”

Both of the men, along with three others in the program, are grateful for this opportunity.

“Getting ready to go outside and succeed in life,” Atterberry said. “Attend classes at CBC and that I’m really looking forward to — getting certified in welding is my plan.”

“Work my way up, and honestly for now, whatever job comes by because like I said, I need to pick myself back up,” Ortiz.

The success of these inmates pleases the corrections officers.

“I believe they’re taking this program to heart, and I really think they’re going to do something with it,” said Deputy Clifford Johnson. “They’ve grown a lot — from being skeptical to being optimistic.”

The person who created the program wanted the participants to feel like they’re not just another inmate number.

“They feel like they’re being treated like people and less like they’re forgotten,” said Capt. Adam Diaz.

And those people are forever grateful for that second chance.

“I just want to thank you guys and thank you to you, Johnson, and have been awesome with me and you treat me like a human being,” Ortiz said to Diaz and Johnson. “Give life a chance. People can change. People can succeed also.”

“It’s been a journey and I’ve enjoyed it and I really feel positive for the future now,” Atterberry said. “You’ll just succeed if you just take what they give you.”

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office hopes to make the program permanent and extend it to more than 10 weeks so the participants can maximize the resources and classes to build a better future.